With the temperature in the 40s and snow covering nearby mountains, there was every reason to believe the pitchers at Wednesday’s Mission League baseball opener in Sherman Oaks between Notre Dame and Bishop Alemany might have some issues with walks considering how difficult it might be gripping the baseball in the cold.
Sure enough, Notre Dame ace Oliver Boone didn’t make it out of the first inning. He gave up six runs on four walks and two hit batters and never got a batter out before being pulled.
“I couldn’t get a grip of it,” Boone said.
By game’s end, eight pitchers would combine for 19 walks and seven hit batters.
Watching it all unfold from left field was Notre Dame outfielder Kai Gonzaga.
“Once the sun went down, it was freezing,” he said.
Alemany opened an 8-0 lead in the second inning only to see Notre Dame come back for an 11-8 victory. The big blow was a tying two-run home run by Gonzaga over the right-field fence in the sixth inning that tied the score.
“It was unbelievable,” Gonzaga said of his first home run in high school varsity baseball. “I didn’t even think it was going out. I was surprised. I’m still in shock.”
Ryan Limerick would follow with a two-run double and Madden Ocko an RBI triple to highlight a five-run sixth. Levi Sterling came on in the seventh to pick up the save with three strikeouts.
Andrew Garcia finished with four RBIs for Alemany, including a three-run triple.
Notre Dame coach Tom Dill, in his 31st season, has seen his share of strange games, but Wednesday’s was close to the top.
“To think one of of the best pitchers doesn’t get an out in the first inning and gives up six runs . . . when I got up in the morning, that’s not what I was thinking,” he said.
Pitchers Erik Puodziunas, Nate Kugler and Sterling limited Alemany to two hits over 61/3 innings of relief pitching. The teams resume their three-game series on Thursday at Alemany.
Meanwhile, Harvard-Westlake suffered a 5-4 Mission League road loss to St. Francis. Holden Deitch had two hits and two RBIs. Xander Douglas got the final two outs with the tying run on base for the save. First-year St. Francis coach Shaun Kort used to be a Harvard-Westlake assistant.
In a nonleague game, West Ranch defeated Granada Hills 12-5. Matt Lloyd homered for West Ranch and Mickey Murr had three hits and three RBIs.
Sterling Patick struck out nine in South Hills’ 8-2 win over Huntington Beach.